vermillion horizon

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Always, sunset

Hollywood movies seem to make it to Japan quickly - but Japanese movies are few and far between in the US. That's why, two years after its domestic release, ALWAYS 三丁目の夕日 (Always, Sunset on Third Street) finally held its Chicago premiere a few days ago. This premiere involved no red carpets or flashing cameras - instead it was an informal gathering in the auditorium of Chicago's Japan Information Center, with a DVD version of the movie shown over a projector.

But that doesn't matter - paparazzi or not, this movie was charming! Set in 1958 Tokyo, ALWAYS 三丁目の夕日invites us to share in the daily lives of residents of Third Street. We meet the sweet teenager Roku-chan, who arrives from the countryside to take an apprenticeship with Suzuki Auto... and the eccentric writer, Chagawa, who yearns to be recognized as a serious novelist... and the shy Junnosuke, recently abandoned by his mother. These are just a few of the memorable cast of characters in a movie that hooked me from the very beginning. ALWAYS 三丁目の夕captures the joys and struggles of everyday life, weaving together a variety of experiences into a tight story set against the greater backdrop of Tokyo's coming of age.

With a movie like this, who needs Hollywood?

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  • Hi,Ms.horizon!

    Welcome back! I am so glad to read your updates again.

    I knew nothing about the movie you mentioned but now I'd like to watch the DVD. I often ask some foreingers in Japan how do they feel about Japanese dramas or movies. But it is a little bit pity for me that many of them claim that they don't like them because they are boring for want of some kinds of bombing incidents, car accidents or serious affairs like that as in many of the hollywood movies. For instance, an american guy who've been living in Tochigi prefecture for 40 years asked me, "They are so boring. Why do they always eating (in the Japanese dramas or movies)?". haha. It is true that there are many eating scenes in them. But I guess that they usually don't focus on any kinds of events but on the subtleness of each character's feelings and that it is not so bad about the way how the Japanese dramas or movies are now. So I was really glad to read this article to find you really appreciate it. I can recommend you some movies directed by Mr.ONO yasuziro such as "Tokyo monogatari(The story of Tokyo)", "Sanma no azi(The taste of saury".

    Though you may think I am not standing by the remarks I made, recently I've totally enjoyed the DVDs of the sitcom, "Seinfeld" or the movie, "election". Because my English teacher in ECC recommended them to me. I feel they are rather like Japanese drama or commedy than ever, aren't they?

    For more, I am now enjoying listening "Wait wait...Don't tell me!" in Chicago Public Radio; I'd like to go to Chicago someday and join the live taping of the program, lol.

    By Blogger bun, at 11:04 AM  

  • Hi bun-san,
    Good to hear from you! Sorry I have been absent from my blog recently...

    Watching this movie was a really nice change of pace from watching Hollywood movies, which are TOO dramatic sometimes! I liked seeing the subtleness of day to day life (and there are many eating scenes, like you said!) - it made me miss Japan even more. I will have to watch the movies you recommended - I've heard they're good examples of Japanese cinema.

    That is interesting that you've been watching "Seinfeld". It is often described as a "show about nothing" - and so you're right that it is similar to Japanese productions in that way.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    By Blogger v_horizon, at 9:07 PM  

  • Thank you for your reply. I have a few things to correct. The directer's name isn't "ONO" but "OZU yasujiro". Wikipedia has more details about him;
    And the two best works I mentioned are translated like this as you can see there;
    1.Tokyo Story (1953, 東京物語)
    2.An Autumn Afternoon (1962, 秋刀魚の味)
    If you'll excuse my addition,
    3.Late Spring (1949, 晩春)
    I really have no excuse. Sorry. They say he exerted a strong and long influence on the younger generation and I guess that's really true and I am sure you can enjoy his works.

    It is new for me that "Seinfeld" is often described as a "show about nothing" but I guess it's really true. I am now learning many English expressions from it such as "I rest my case.", "in the ballpark" or "You can't have your cake and eat it, too."

    It is a pity but also true that peace is often boring. I guess we have to be patient with that kind of boringness, or more positively, to have how to enjoy it. I am worried about it watching some hollywood movies recently.

    Hope you are doing well!

    By Blogger bun, at 8:03 PM  

  • Hi bun-san,
    Thanks for your clarification! I recently signed up for Netflix (a DVD delivery service here in the US), so I will definitely add these movies to my queue. I have been catching up on Miyazaki movies recently. I wouldn't say I'm much of an anime fan, but I do like these stories.

    That's cool that "Seinfeld" has helped you pick up American slang expresssions. I wonder if there are any Japanese shows which would be particularly helpful for a foreigner learning Japanese. Do you have any recommendations?

    Take care!

    By Blogger v_horizon, at 8:38 PM  

  • Hi,there!

    I went to the Netflix site but they are just then doing their scheduled maintenance. So I went to to take my pick of all the Japanese TV series that have English subtitles. I guess "The Great White Tower"

    would be one of the best series of them except for the Japanese Animes(Actually, I don't care Animes now like you because they are too childish though I watched many of them when I was just knee-high to a grasshopper. But now I am trying to watch "the Simpsons" to get many American slang like "have a cow" haha). Anyway recently "The Great Tower" got high audience ratings in Japan and was exported to many other Asian coounties. So almost of all Japanese and many Chinese(I heard so from a chinese friend of mine) know it and they must be absolutely surprised if you've ever watched it.

    Talk to you soon!

    By Blogger bun, at 5:30 AM  

  • Hi Bun-san,
    Thanks for your recommendation! I will have to check it out soon. Watching TV/movies is really one of the best ways to learn another language (and I have a lot of catching up to do with Japanese, because I have forgotten so much over the past couple of years!)

    Hope you had a great weekend!

    By Blogger v_horizon, at 9:32 AM  

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